The Dragon Stone- a short story written for Eco Kids Planet magazine
Heidi stared into the flickering flames of the campfire and warmed her hands. The sun had disappeared behind the mountains and the air had become sharp and chilling. She sipped her cup of hot, sweet tea and rested her head on her grandfather’s shoulder.
“Why couldn’t we have camped in the caves behind, Gramps?” she asked. “It would have been much warmer…”
Her grandfather shook his head and smiled. “Those caves go deep under the mountains – no one has ever reached the end of them. You never know what animals might be spending the winter months in hibernation there. Perhaps a sleepy bear decides it’s time to wake up…or maybe a dragon thinks he can smell his supper!”
“A dragon, Gramps?” cried Heidi “There’s no such thing as dragons!”
The old man looked deep into the fire, as if deciding how he was going to reply. He coughed a little.
Heidi shivered, but it wasn’t the cold. “Steady on, Gramps!”
The old man chuckled. “Then again, other stories describe the creatures as shy and gentle... “
“I’d far rather think of them as friendly…as we’re camping out here tonight!” Heidi whispered.
“Yes, me too!” her grandfather winked, before continuing.
“There was a young girl from our village, about the same age as you, oh many, many years ago, long before you were born. One day, as she was hanging out the washing for her mother, she realised that within moments of pegging something on the line, it became bone-dry! And when she took the laundry down again, she discovered a small beast, no bigger than a horse, asleep in the field behind her house. While it snored, it was blowing out such red-hot air that it had dried the washing like a heater! The girl was terrified and she ran off to fetch her brother. By the time they returned, however, the creature had
“Here, have some water, Gramps. Did the girl keep the stone?” Heidi asked.
“Yes, she did, for a dragon’s stone is supposed to have healing powers, curing anything from coughs and colds to chickenpox!”
“And did she ever see the dragon again?” Heidi wondered.
Night had now fallen and a blanket of stars winked from the dark skies over the mountains behind them. Her grandfather sighed and coughed again. Heidi put her arms around him protectively and closed her eyes.
“When the girl grew-up, she went to study in the city and became a scientist and explorer. But she never forgot the little dragon she had seen as a child and many years later, she returned to her village, determined to find it. She believed it must have been living in the deepest caves of the mountains, perhaps with others. One cold morning in 1709, she bid farewell to her family and set off on her quest, taking the dragon stone with her.”
“So, did she ever find the dragon, Gramps?” Heidi yawned. It had been a long day of walking and she was feeling very sleepy now.
The old man hesitated. “No one knows. She was never seen again…”
Heidi had fallen asleep. When she awoke in the morning, there was a cold, heavy mist in the air, yet the campfire was still burning with an intense heat and strange brightness. As she helped her grandfather pack-up their things for the new day’s hiking, Heidi realised that he wasn’t coughing any more. Suddenly she felt a tremor that seemed to come from the heart of the mountains and the flames of the fire disappeared, as if blown-out like a candle, except that there was no wind that morning, not even a breeze.
Heidi gasped. There in the glowing embers, lay a stone. A smooth, blue-black stone the colour of night…